Tripura, under a CPI(M) chief minister, Shri Manik Sarkar worked in cooperation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2015, to completely repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This Article focuses on how two extreme binaries came together to resolve such a huge issue in the state, especially when this intellectual war between the Left and the Right is in continuum.
The North East has often been under reported in the news, throughout the mainland. The racism exerted by the media to reluctantly cover states with a majoritarian ethnic minority population, has enabled the mainland to disassociate itself from the issues of the North East. To integrate the North East into national policies, the NDA Government has specifically focused on implementing a development agenda at all levels of government. From integration drives by student unions much like DUSU to university level programmes like Gyanodaya have facilitated a discussion between the students.
Tripura, one of the gems of the North East has a State Government under the leadership of a left front chief minister, namely, Manik Sarkar. However through cooperation with the Home Minister at the centre, under the leadership of the Prime Minister backed by a BJP led NDA Government, AFSPA was repealed in May 2015. AFSPA, by law, can only be repealed if the Governor agrees to it. And in the case of Tripura, Manik Sarkar closely worked with the intelligence agencies to ensure that militancy was less, and provided a consolidated report to the Governor, who after consulting with the Prime Minister, repealed the controversial act from the state (from one police station to another, gradually).
After repealing the act, Prime Minister Modi, reportedly asked for a report on how Tripura repealed AFSPA from the Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar, who obliged. It is important to state that even political adversaries, who have extremely contrary views came together to relieve the people of Tripura from such a harsh law.
Let us now take a closer look at AFSPA –
AFSPA has been one of the most controversial policies adopted by the central governments (across party lines) throughout the history of Independent India. With insurgencies fostered by remorse amongst the ethnic minorities, backward classes and people demanding a monopoly for a particular religion, the archaic act of parliament has often led to the protection of the Indian mainland at the cost of rampant human rights violations carried out by a number of army and paramilitary personnel. Although the number of jawans responsible for such acts is minuscule as compared to the full force deployed, the fact remains that the data for the number of prosecutions against the armed forces have also been shocking.
Jammu and Kashmir has been a hotbed, much like Manipur where women have come out in the open to oppose the law, claiming they had been raped and their husbands had been shot dead despite being innocent.
An RTI query made to the Ministry of Defence, Government of India had revealed that only one army man has been prosecuted in Jammu and Kashmir during a tenure of 22 years, against the 44 cases that were received for sanction of prosecution from 1990 to 2011. This meant sanction was not granted in almost 98 per cent of recommended cases (97.73 per cent). In all the cases of rights abuses the controversial AFSPA was invoked to shield the accused.
This is a major tradeoff that needs to be dealt with. The security agencies need to work in a coalition with the government to ensure that the militancy reduces in these sectors, and only then can such a law be repealed.
If the centre and the states could come together, and gradually repeal the act from one district to another, in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Assam, then we could soon see tremendous reduction in ‘seditious’ activities in these states. It is clearly important for the media to cover these issues extensively. It is also the responsibility of the Left and the Right to come together and work for the betterment of the society through constructive policies and not destructive ones.
Image Credits: www.nelive.in